Ongoing controversy surrounding the permanent members’ transfer list system which operates under In Orders 1991/19 and Clause 28 of the Award has led the Union’s State Committee to order an overhaul of the system, and to withdraw from any further member v member disputes.
Any member familiar with 1991/19 would know that it’s more than just a little ambiguous in parts, and this alone has given rise to a never ending stream of complaints. The State Committee therefore proposes to replace 1991/19 with a new Clause 28 which will comprehensively govern the rules applying to all ex-GSA transfers. The Department has indicated its in-principle agreement to this approach.
Whilst this draft Clause 28 is still being finalised, it is already clear that it will not simply be a clarification of the current system. The draft Clause 28 will contain various amendments, including the abolition of the “travel through” rule in favour of a new “nearest fire station” system, the introduction of transfer lists for Inspectors in N3, N7 and S3, and the simplification of the existing system country officer appointments.
The largest single headache for the Union’s officials, however, has arisen with the competing claims of various members as to whether or not someone actually resides (or resided) where they’ve claimed to. These disputes have placed the Union in a hopeless situation – we can never win because virtually every one of these disputes boils down to one or more members against one or more other members. Further, and far more problematic, is the fact that the State Committee actually has no way of ruling either way short of hiring an FBEU under-cover van and camping out the front of members’ houses 24/7 for months on end!
It’s fair to say that over the years your Union’s officials have become pretty demoralised by the less than comradely approach adopted by some members to these transfer disputes. With hindsight, the Union’s 30 year old policy of refusing to intervene in transfer issues within the various Fire Districts was adopted for good reason. The State Committee will therefore be putting it to members at this year’s AGM that our Union’s policy of non-intervention should now be extended to all transfers generally.
This is not to say that the Union would remove itself from transfer issues altogether, but rather that we would confine our involvement to determining the rules surrounding the operation of the transfer system and ensuring those rules were correctly followed by the Department. It’s proposed that all member v member residential claims should in future be determined solely by the Department, with any final appeal and determination to be made by the Commissioner. This means that the Union shall no longer be asked to investigate its own members, leaving that task to the Department with the result that disgruntled members should in future properly direct their anger at their employer rather than at their Union. On the other hand, if any member would like to apply for the position of “Residential Inquisitor” then by all means let us know!
The new Clause 28 draft is expected to be posted to our website within the week, and members will be encouraged to review that draft and provide feedback (by email or fax, please) prior to the formal debate which will take place during this November’s AGM.